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Crow’s Theatre announces star-studded 2019/20 season

Apr 18, 2019

Festival veterans Dion Johnstone, Jim Mezon, Moya O’Connell, & Graham Abbey set to star in Julius Caesar in co-production with Groundling Theatre Company; indie-rock darlings Stars will light up the east-end theatre with Stars: Together, an ambitious theatre/concert hybrid. 

The eight-show season includes Toronto premiere of Annie Baker’s Pulitzer Prize winning play The Flick (co-produced with Outside the March); Canadian premiere of Dave Malloy’s Ghost Quartet (co-produced with Eclipse Theatre Company), featuring Andrew Penner, Hailey Gillis, Kira Guloien, and Beau Dixon; and the return of Secret Life of a Mother, starring Maev Beaty.
Following the announcement in January that long-time creative producer and senior arts leader Sherrie Johnson would be joining Artistic Director Chris Abraham to lead Crow’s Theatre as Executive Director, the company today unveiled a dynamic and adventurous 2019/2020 season, straddling the worlds of contemporary theatre, Shakespeare, musical theatre, and pop. The season’s programming underscores the importance of storytelling in the creation of community, the ability of art to mine lasting meaning from the ephemeral, and the fragile nature of human bonds. In many ways, Crow’s Theatre’s 4th season in its new home in Toronto’s east end, celebrates the simple pleasure and value of gathering in the dark together to tell stories.
The 2019/2020 programme features collaborations with Canada’s most outstanding and trailblazing companies: Mitchell Cushman’s Outside the March; the newly-launched Eclipse Theatre Company led by Chilina Kennedy and Evan Tsitsias; Torquil Campbell and the band STARS collaborate with Chris Abraham and playwright/filmmaker Zack Russell; Abraham reunites with Dion Johnstone and Graham Abbey from his acclaimed 2013 Stratford Festival production of Othello, and Hannah Moscovitch, Maev Beaty, and Ann-Marie Kerr remount The Theatre Centre/SLOM collective production of Secret Life of a Mother.
Our 2019.2020 season is about living with, amongst, and entangled with other people,’” comments Crow’s Theatre Artistic Director Chris Abraham. “It’s about the consolations and rewards of belonging, but it’s also about its hazards. Across many works this season, we look at the different kinds of bonds between people; those forged through adversity, political struggle, loneliness, music, shared history, joy and pain. We look at the fragile connections we make with people, and our capacity to draw strength from what we have in common. At the same time, the season shows us the flip side of belonging; populism, group-think, and the role of violence as tool for shaping social change are examined as products of societies pushed to the limits of tolerance. Through it all, our shared need for connection, friendship and belonging is at the heart of next year’s season. More and more, we feel that Crow’s Theatre has become a place where this can need can be met; where artists and audiences gather around stories that affirm the fundamentals of our common humanity.”
In a co-production between Crow’s Theatre & Outside the March, the season begins in October with an unmissable immersive production of Annie Baker’s 2014 Pulitzer Prize winning play, The Flick. The Flick is directed by Mitchell Cushman, Outside the March artistic director and long-time Crow’s collaborator, whose recent work, Jerusalem, packed Streetcar Crowsnest in 2018. A hilarious and heartfelt clarion call for authenticity and human connection in a fast-changing world, The Flick follows three ushers as they navigate life at $8.25 an hour and attend to the last 35mm projector in town. Grab some popcorn and settle in; the entire lobby and theatre at Streetcar Crowsnest will be transformed into a vintage repertory cinema in the signature immersive style of Outside the March.
Just in time for Halloween, Crow’s Theatre and Eclipse Theatre Company co-produce Ghost Quartet, the first musical to be presented at Streetcar Crowsnest. Written and composed by Dave Malloy, the Tony-nominated composer and creator of Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, Ghost Quartet began its life at Brooklyn’s storied Bushwick Starr, and went on to be performed at New York’s McKittrick Hotel before taking the Edinburgh Fringe by storm in 2016. This song cycle about love, death, and whisky will be directed by Marie Farsi. The play is haunted by narratives from 700 years of history and will awaken your appetite for ghost stories and unseen worlds. The production will star Andrew Penner (Sunparlour Players and Harrow Fair), Hailey Gillis (star of Soulpepper’s Rose),  Kira Guloien (Doctor Zhivago on Broadway, The Who’s Tommy at Stratford, and Grey Gardens for Musical Stage Co.) and multi-Dora Award-winning actor and musician Beau Dixon (Soulpepper’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and Harlem Duet).  
Crow’s second musical offering, Stars: Together, will premiere at Streetcar Crowsnest in NovemberStars, the critically acclaimed Montreal-based indie band, have been making music together for 20 years. Now, they create an intimate concert/theatre hybrid with writer/director Zack Russell and director Chris Abraham. The show, performed by all members of Stars, will feature new and old music, in a concert experience that weaves stories, catastrophic breakups and ecstatic makeups into an intimate tribute to staying together on stage and off. The project sees director Chris Abraham reuniting with Torquil Campbell, with whom he co-created the critically-acclaimed one-man show True Crime. 
Our collective hunger for connection and intimacy is equally reflected in a series of three works by female creators: Crow’s Theatre presents the SLOM Collective and The Theatre Centre’s acclaimed production Secret Life of a Mother; Nombre, a first-time co-presentation with Théâtre français de Toronto; and Nightwood Theatre’s production of Karen Hines’ All the Little Animals I Have Eaten. In Secret Life of a Mother - produced by The Theatre Centre and SLOM Collective and written by Hannah Moscovitch with Maev Beaty and Ann-Marie Kerr - real-life friends expose their experiences of modern motherhood, offering truth as a blueprint for empowerment. In Nombre, audience members are greeted with envelopes containing simple instructions and are quickly immersed in a show of their own making. The darkly hilarious All the Little Animals I Have Eaten follows a tender-hearted young server over a harrowing shift in the bistro of an all-women’s condo, in a biting meditation on neo-liberalism, consumption, precarity and hope.
The 2019/2020 season considers the flip side of belonging with productions of Julius Caesar (co-produced with Groundling Theatre Company and Crow’s Theatre), Pleiades Theatre Company’s Besbouss, and Obsidian Theatre’s Blacktop Sky.
A highlight of the season, Chris Abraham’s Julius Caesar brings Crow’s Theatre together with Groundling Theatre Company and reunites director Abraham with actors Dion Johnstone (Brutus) - currently on Broadway in King Lear - and Graham Abbey (Marc Antony), who co-starred in Abraham’s acclaimed 2013 production of Othello for the Stratford Festival, in a story that grapples with the rise of authoritarianism, and the ethics of violence as a tool for progressive change.  The production also welcomes Abraham’s frequent collaborator, Moya O’Connell (Cassius), fresh from her upcoming stint playing Coriolanus at Bard on the Beach as well as lauded festival star Jim Mezon (Groundling Theatre’s Lear) as Julius Caesar and Crowsnest regular Amaka Umeh (Towards Youth) as Octavius. This modern-dress production of Julius Caesar will build on Abraham’s growing body of work in the Shakespearean canon, including his lauded Stratford productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Othello, The Taming of the Shrew, and most recently, Macbeth for Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach. Groundling Theatre Company returns to Toronto stages, after partnering with Crow’s Theatre and Canadian Stage to bring Stratford’s acclaimed Tartuffe to Toronto.
In Besbouss, produced by Pleiades Theatre in association with Crow’s Theatre, a forensic pathologist is tasked with performing an autopsy on the body of a young man who sparked the Arab Spring. Adapted & directed by acclaimed Lebanese Canadian director Majdi Bou-Matar and featuring Saïd Benyoucef this production will be the English-language premiere of Stéphane Brullotte’s play, in a new translation by Pleiades Theatre’s founding Artistic Director, John Van Burek.
After the successful launch of their program The Darktown Initiative with last season’s acclaimed Judas Noir, Obsidian Theatre Company returns to Streetcar Crowsnest with Blacktop Sky. Written by Christina Anderson, and directed by Jay Northcott, Blacktop Sky is a stunning examination of the intersection of love, violence, and community, after two young people come together in the wake of a fatal confrontation between a local vendor and the police.
Following their hit partnership with Crow’s Theatre on 2018’s The Wolves, The Howland Company returns to Streetcar Crowsnest as a guest company, presenting a new adaptation of a modern classic, Casimir and Caroline, directed by Paolo Santalucia.
Guest company TheatreSix, presents Dora-award winner Carly Street in Grounded, about an ace fighter pilot whose unexpected pregnancy ends her flying career.
Crow’s Theatre is proud to announce a new partnership with Shakespeare in the Ruff on their summer production of The Winter’s Tale in Withrow Park. With the generous support of Crow’s Theatre, Shakespeare in the Ruff will continue to build capacity as a beloved summer tradition in the East end. “We love our neighbours!” says Eva Barrie, Shakespeare in the Ruff co-Artistic Director. “Not only is Crow’s generously supporting our production of The Winter’s Tale, but we are about to embark upon a long-term relationship geared at knowledge exchange, mutual skill-building, and investing in the creative life of Toronto’s East End.
2019-2020 will see Crow’s Theatre continue their thirty-seven year history as a touring company, as The Boy in the Moon, directed by Chris Abraham, continues to make its way across the country, with a summer engagement at the Thousand Islands Playhouse and a run at The Globe Theatre in Regina in April 2020.  Based on Ian Brown’s heartbreakingly poignant memoir about raising his son Walker, who was born with a rare genetic disorder, the play draws from Brown’s book as well as original interviews with Brown, his wife Johanna Schneller, and their daughter Hayley. The Crow’s production, directed by Chris Abraham, was selected as one of the Globe and Mail’s Top Ten productions of 2017.
Subscriptions and Single Tickets
Crow’s Theatre offers 4-play and 8-play subscriptions. 4 play subscribers save 20% on the single ticket price; 8-play subscribers save 30%. Subscriber benefits include discounts on additional tickets, and access to special offers at on-site restaurant Gare de l’Est. 
This year, Crow’s introduces 3 new curated subscription packages: the Crow’s Immersive Package, the Female Playwrights Package, and the Big Ideas Package. Each curated package includes 4 plays, and a drink or snack at the lobby bar at each show, for $175 plus fees and taxes.
Single tickets for 2019.2020 performances range from $20.00 to $55.00 CDN. Subscription and single ticket discounts are available for seniors and students.
Subscriptions and single tickets go on sale April 18, 2019.  
Get more information and buy tickets at here.
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For more information or interview requests please contact:
Suzanne Cheriton, RedEye Media, 416-805-6744, suzanne@redeyemedia.ca

Crow’s Theatre 2019-2020 Season 

Crow’s Theatre Productions:

An Outside the March and Crow’s Theatre Co-Production
The Flick October 6 - October 27, 2019 (Guloien Theatre)
Written by Annie Baker

Directed by Mitchell Cushman
Toronto Premiere of Annie Baker’s 2014 Pulitzer Prize-Winning Play.

In a run-down movie theater in central Massachusetts, three underpaid employees mop floors and attend to one of the last 35mm film projectors in the state. The Flick is a hilarious and heart-rending cry for authenticity in a fast-changing world and was the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. After Outside the March’s explosive, Dora Award-Winning 2018 production of Jerusalem at Streetcar Crowsnest, Outside the March and Crow’s Theatre join forces to transform the theatre and lobby into The Flick Cinema, for another unmissable immersive event.

*****”A love letter to the theatre”" - The Guardian
“Pure theatre of the kind we rarely see” – Globe and Mail review of Jerusalem
A Crow’s Theatre and Eclipse Theatre Company Co-Production
Ghost Quartet October 5-November 3, 2019 (Scotiabank Community Studio)
Written and Composed by Dave Malloy
Directed by Marie Farsi
Starring Beau Dixon, Hailey Gillis, Kira Guloien & Andrew Penner
Canadian premiere of Tony Award nominated writer/composer Dave Malloy’s Ghost Quartet.
Ghost Quartet is a haunted song cycle about love, death and whisky. A camera breaks and four friends drink, in interwoven narratives spanning seven centuries: a warped fairy tale about two sisters, a treehouse astronomer and a lazy evil bear; a retelling of Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher"; a purgatorial intermezzo about Scheherazade; and a contemporary fable about a subway murder. Murder ballads, doo-wop, jazz noise, and raucous campfire drinking songs collide in this surreal chamber musical from Dave Malloy, composer of Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.

New York Times Critic’s Pick
“like watching a spectacular sunrise after a night of whiskey” - Time Out New York
A Crow’s Theatre Production
STARS: Together November 26- December 8, 2019 (Guloien Theatre)
Created by Stars, Chris Abraham and Zack Russell
With Stars
After 20 years and 8 albums, Canada’s most theatrical indie rock band meet their destiny and decide to make a play together - well...not quite: part rock-doc, part tragicomic fantasy, and all Stars concert, Montreal’s beloved indie-rock band promises one of the strangest concert experiences in the history of mankind. Careening between tragedy and farce, illusion and reality, old tunes and new ones, the band settles into Crow’s Theatre for a limited engagement of the world premiere of their intimate concert/theatre hybrid, Together.

“Beautiful, eloquent indie pop” – Pitchfork
“The Stars shine… beautifully lush” – Rolling Stone
A Groundling Theatre and Crow’s Theatre Co-Production
Julius Caesar January 7 – January 26, 2020 (Guloien Theatre)

Written by Shakespeare
Directed by Chris Abraham
Starring Dion Johnstone, Graham Abbey, Moya O’Connell, Amaka Umeh and Jim Mezon
In the most powerful state on earth, a coalition of educated elites, alarmed at their leader’s populist, authoritarian reforms, conspire to bring him down. After his assassination, a civil war erupts, as ghosts, revolutionaries, and politicians contend with what they’ve done, and what’s to come.  A co-production from Crow’s Theatre and Groundling Theatre Company (Lear, The Winter’s Tale and Measure for Measure) following their celebrated co-presentation of Tartuffe, the production will bring the country’s most acclaimed Shakespearean actors to Streetcar Crowsnest for the first time.

Crow’s Theatre Presents:

Crow’s Theatre presents The Theatre Centre and SLOM Collective Co-Production
Secret Life of a Mother February 5-23, 2020 (Guloien Theatre)
Written by Hannah Moscovitch with Maev Beaty and Ann-Marie Kerr
Co-Created with Marinda deBeer
Directed by Ann-Marie Kerr
Developed in Residency at The Theatre Centre
A playwright writes an exposé of modern motherhood: a confessional piece about her own darkly funny and taboo-breaking truths. One of her real-life friends, an actress, performs this story, and through it her own motherhood secrets start to surface. These mothers are not the butts of jokes, or the villains, or the perfect angels of the house. Secret Life of a Mother reveals the raw, transcendent and untold secrets of pregnancy, miscarriage, childbirth, and mothering. This is motherhood for the 21st century: hallucinatory, gothic, and empowered.
“Devastatingly good” – NOW
“There’s no better way to spend time in a theatre than with the incandescent Maev Beaty” – NOW
Crow’s Theatre and Théâtre Français de Toronto present a Collectif Alpha Charlie Kilo
Nombre April 16 & 18, 2020 (Scotiabank Community Studio)
Directed and created by Krystel Descary, Claudiane Ruelland and Alexandrine Warren
Nombre is both an event and an experience. On arrival, audience members are given an envelope containing simple and innocuous instructions. But they are quickly immersed in the heart of a show of their own making. Crow’s Theatre presents two English performances, Thursday April 16 & Saturday April 18

“une expérience théâtrale tout à fait unique” – Journal Quebec
“a very unique theatrical experience” – Journal Quebec

In Association with Crow’s Theatre:

Pleiades Theatre Company in association with Crow’s Theatre
Besbouss November 7-20, 2019 (Guloien Theatre)
Written by Stéphane Brulotte    Translation by John Van Burek

Directed by Majdi Bou-Matar
Featuring Saïd Benyoucef
On Friday December 17, 2010, a fruit vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi ignites a fire that will burn its way across the Arab world. A fictional account gives Karim, a forensic pathologist, the task of performing an autopsy on his body as protests erupt throughout Tunisia, and eventually throughout the Middle East. Charged with clearing the Tunisian government of any blame in his death, the doctor must reconcile his own safety, the future of his country, and the dignity of a young man that sparked the Arab Spring.
Nightwood Theatre in association with Crow’s Theatre
All the Little Animals I Have Eaten March 17 - April 12, 2020 (Guloien Theatre)
Written by Karen Hines
In the latest of Karen Hines’ darkly hilarious comedies, we follow a tender-hearted young server on the most harrowing shift of her life. In the extraordinarily modern bistro of an all-women’s condo, our heroine contends with voracious insurance adjustors, literary plagiarists, and indomitable invertebrates. Table talk ranges from real estate to politics to the existential transcendence of lambs — but it’s only when the fuzzy ones start to speak that our hero really starts to listen. Governor General nominated, powerhouse playwright of The Pochsy Plays and Crawlspace, Hines serves up a biting meditation on neo-liberalism, consumption, precarity and hope.
‘Karen Hines’ wild mind shines.’ -The Halfstep
Obsidian Theatre Company in association with Crow’s Theatre
Blacktop Sky March 24-April 12, 2020 (Scotiabank Community Studio)
Written by Christina Anderson
Directed by Jay Northcott
Obsidian Theatre’s Darktown Initiative returns after the success of Judas Noir, one of Toronto Star’s “Top 9 Plays of 2018.” Klass, a homeless young Black man, sets up residence in the courtyard of the housing project where 18-year-old Ida Peters lives. After a fatal confrontation between a local vendor and the police, Klass and Ida develop a precarious bond, set against the backdrop of a restless neighbourhood. Inspired by the Greek myth Leda and the Swan, Blacktop Sky examines the intersection of love, violence and community.

“a cry from the urban heart."
–Chicago Sun-Times
“”Blacktop Sky serves as a mirror for issues in our society…homelessness, police violence, relationships and, above all, empathy.”- San Diego Voice and Viewpoint

Guest Companies: (Not part of the subscription season)

The Howland Company Presents
Casimir and Caroline January 14- February 9, 2020 (Scotiabank Community Studio)
Written by Ödön Von Horváth
Adapted by Paolo Santalucia, with Holger Syme and The Howland Company
Directed by Paolo Santalucia
Starring members of The Howland Company and more
Tonight’s the office party. There’s a one drink-ticket limit, and we are way passed that now. Casimir just got fired, his phone’s not working, and his shoes are falling apart. Caroline wants to dance, sing karaoke, and forget about the weight of the world. They are engaged… for now. 
Ödön von Horváth’s 1932 tragicomedy is one of the most frequently staged plays in the modern German repertoire, but until now has never been staged for a North American audience. From the company behind hit shows Punk Rock and The Wolves, comes the North American premiere of this new adaptation of a modern classic.
TheatreSix Presents Carly Street in
Grounded February 13-29, 2020 (Scotiabank Community Studio)
Written by George Brant
Directed by Kerry Ann Doherty
Starring Carly Street
Dora award winner Carly Street returns to the Toronto stage as an ace fighter pilot whose unexpected pregnancy ends her career in the sky. Reassigned to operate military drones from a windowless trailer outside Las Vegas, she hunts terrorists by day and returns to her family each night. As the pressure to track a high-profile target mounts, the boundaries begin to blur between the desert in which she lives and the one she patrols far away.

Touring Productions:

A Crow’s Theatre Production
The Boy in the Moon
Written by Emil Sher, based on the book by Ian Brown
Directed by Chris Abraham
Based on Globe and Mail journalist Ian Brown's candid and moving memoir of raising his son Walker, The Boy in the Moon captures the journey of a couple raising a child with profound disabilities caused by a rare genetic disorder. The text of the play draws from Brown's book along with original interviews with Ian, Johanna Schneller, and their daughter Hayley.
Thousand Islands Playhouse             Gananoque, ON                     August 2019
The Globe Theatre                             Regina, SK                             April 2020

Crow’s Kids

Made possible by generous support from Scotiabank, Crow’s Kids returns with programming for the whole family, including the ever-popular Summer Medley camp in August 2019.
Crow’s Kids classes will return in the Fall of 2019 with Saturday Morning fun for kids ages 2-12. Throughout the season, Crow’s Kids will roll out a series of Sunday programming that the whole family can enjoy, including concerts, storytelling and other activities.
Scotiabank aims to support organizations that are committed to helping young people reach their infinite potential. Young people are our future leaders and Scotiabank’s goal is to help ensure that they have the necessary skills and resources they need to support their success.

Sponsorship acknowledgments

Crow’s Theatre gratefully acknowledges annual support from
Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, and the Canada Council for the Arts
Crow’s Thanks its major corporate, government, foundation and individual sponsors who have made the 2019-2020 season possible:
Major Program Funding for Crow’s Theatre is generously provided by
The Government of Ontario – Entrepreneurship in the Arts Program
Major Sponsorship Support for Crow’s Theatre programming is generously provided by
BMO – Lead Season Sponsor
Scotiabank – Creative Youth Program Sponsor
The Slaight Family Foundation- Creative Residency and Performance Series
Programming Support for Crow’s Theatre’s 2019-2020 season is generously provided by
Chestnut Park Real Estate Limited, Brokerage – Audience Enrichment Program